One year after KCR’s win, Telangana struggles with welfare schemes and finances | Opinion
It has been exactly one year since Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K Chandrasekhar Rao ( KCR) came back to power in Telangana for a second successive term.
Like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who returned to power for a second term in May this year, notwithstanding the talk of an anti-establishment wave sweeping across the country as an undercurrent, KCR too got a huge mandate from people.
Like in his first four-and-a-half years in power, KCR has continued to reign supreme as an invincible leader in the last one year, as the Opposition appears to be in a total disarray, unable to find a leader who can match the TRS supremo politically or otherwise.
Like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre, the TRS upset all the calculations of the political pundits in December 7, 2018 assembly elections of a possible change in the government in the state. He pulled off a remarkable victory by winning 88 seats in the 119-member state assembly.
And within no time, he managed to reduce the Opposition further by attracting 12 out of 19 lawmakers from the Congress and one out of two from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), besides two independents into the TRS. And by wresting one more seat from the Congress in the recently held by-election to Huzurnagar assembly seat held by PCC president N Uttam Kumar Reddy, the TRS’ tally now stands at 104.
Of course, KCR received a shock in the April 11 Lok Sabha elections in the state. His party could win just nine of 17 MP seats, though it hoped to win at least 14-15 seats. The BJP, which could win just one assembly seat and lost deposits in 103 other seats in December 2018 elections, bounced back by winning four MP seats. The Congress, too, managed to restore its pride by winning three MP seats.
But the Opposition’s euphoria remained short-lived, as the TRS captured 90 per cent of the block parishads and all the 32 zilla parishads in the local body elections held in June.
While KCR could come to power by successfully exploiting the Telangana sentiment and also riding on his welfare schemes, particularly Rythu Bandhu (of providing ₹8,000 per acre to each farmer every year), Rythu Bima (of providing ₹5 lakh to the kin of each farmer who dies in distress) and increased pensions, the weak Opposition turned to be his strong point in the last one year.
The TRS president has been finding it tough to implement his welfare schemes in the last one year, let alone introducing new schemes. Except inaugurating the partially-completed Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project, there is no major achievement for KCR to boast about.
The financial position of the state has completely crippled due to fall in revenues, as a result of which the current year’s state budget had to be pruned from around ₹1.85 lakh crore to ₹1.35 lakh crore and there had been huge cuts in the expenditure of various schemes like completion of double bedroom housing for the poor and Mission Bhagiratha of supplying piped drinking water to every household.
The chief minister has not been able to implement his pre-poll promises of paying interim relief to the state employees, pending pay revision, besides increasing the retirement age from 58 to 61. KCR is attributing the crisis to overall slump in the country’s economy and blaming it on the Centre for imposing a cut in the devolution of central funds and fall in GST revenues.
Yet, KCR is able to get away only because there is no strong Opposition. With just six members in the assembly, the Congress has not been able to take KCR government’s failures into the people and other Opposition parties have virtually no existence in the state.
It was evident from the way the Opposition parties remained helpless, when KCR virtually forced the employees of RTC to give up their 55-day-long leave and surrender to the government by joining their duties without achieving any of their demands.
One major disappointment for KCR in the last one year was that he could not fulfill his ambition of playing a bigger role at the Centre by floating a federal front of all regional parties and bring about a “qualitative change” in national politics. And if he moved to Delhi, his son K T Rama Rao would have become his successor in the state.
But with the BJP under Modi’s leadership staging a comeback at the Centre, KCR’s plans have turned topsy-turvy. Subsequently, he tried to restore ties with the Centre but did not succeed, as the BJP started eyeing power in Telangana following its impressive show in Lok Sabha elections.
His attempts to rope his Andhra counterpart Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy into his fight with the Centre also did not work out. Jagan initially displayed a lot of bonhomie with KCR and agreed for a joint irrigation project to link Godavari river to Krishna basin, has decided to go independently.
Now, the TRS chief has decided to take on the BJP strongly. The TRS voted against Citizenship Amendment Bill - which became a law on Thursday - in Lok Sabha and is all set to fight for legitimate dues from the Centre.
Congress Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka said KCR had miserably failed to live up to the expectations of the people. “The developmental works have come to a standstill, unemployment is growing and welfare schemes are crippled due to non-allocation of funds,” he alleged.
Political analyst and Osmania University professor K Nageshwar said there was nothing euphoric KCR’s one-year rule in second term, compared to his first term. “There has been a lot of discontent among various sections of people, especially the middle class and the unemployed youth over KCR’s rule in the last one year due to non-fulfilment of promises. If the same situation continues, he may have to face a tough time after four years,” he said.